Jets in Trade Market for TE, Former Top-20 Pick a Viable Option

OJ Howard Bucs

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end OJ Howard making a move after catching a pass over the middle.

The New York Jets’ initial 53 man roster is set after a flurry of activity came through the deadline on Tuesday, August 31.

As the dust begins to settle as we reach the next stage of the offseason, waiver wire world, there were some noticeable voids on the roster sheet.

Perhaps the biggest at the tight end position for the green and white.

When the final 53 man roster was released there were only two tight ends listed on the roster: Tyler Kroft and Trevon Wesco.

Wesco barely counts because he transitioned to a fullback role heading into 2021, but even still, with a lack of bodies, this squarely puts the Jets in the trade market for a tight end.

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A Lot of Unexpected Movement

There were several stunning moves by the Jets on Tuesday, but none more so than a surprising trade of fourth-year tight end Chris Herndon to the Minnesota Vikings.

In that deal general manager, Joe Douglas collected a 2022 fourth-rounder in exchange for the veteran tight end and a 2022 sixth-rounder.

That gives Gang Green quite the treasure trove of draft picks heading into next offseason that should put the team in a great position moving forward:

On top of the trade, the Jets also cleaned house at the position cutting prized undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah and a pair of veterans in Daniel Brown and Ryan Griffin.

This series of moves is a telling sign that something has to be on the horizon heading into Week 1.

An Intriguing Possibility Has Revealed Itself

Gregg Rosenthal of recently listed several notable players who could be traded and talented tight end OJ Howard made the cut.

While he made the initial 53 man roster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Howard is listed as the third tight end and at times was listed fourth during training camp.

Squarely in front of him are Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate who are proven players in this league. That doesn’t leave much room for Howard to make an impact.

Back in the 2017 NFL draft, Howard went No. 19 overall in the first round. Jets fans will remember they held the No. 6 overall pick in that same draft and they took LSU superstar Jamal Adams.

Although there’s an alternate reality where they almost pulled the trigger on the versatile tight end out of Alabama instead.

The former member of the Crimson Tide has been a disappointment during his four years in the league. Howard has never played in a full season nor has he eclipsed more than 565 yards receiving in a single season.

The 26-year old has battled an array of injuries with his foot and ankles including most recently last year when he suffered a ruptured Achilles in early October.

Any player that you acquire via trade is going to have some warts: failed expectations, injury concerns, or what have you, but you have to ask yourself, is the juice worth the squeeze?

In this case, it absolutely is.

Howard is a 6-foot-6, 251 pound freak of nature. There’s a reason he was originally a top-20 pick in the NFL draft.

The super-athletic tight end is on the last year of his rookie contract for a fully guaranteed $6 million.

In this Mike LaFleur offense, the tight end position is so important to how things operate. Additionally beyond that, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson needs a security blanket. Someone he can go to when everything else is covered.

Howard can dominate in the three most important phases of the position:

  • Red zone
  • Attacking the seam as a mismatch nightmare (too big for corners and too fast for linebackers)
  • Last resort when things break down for the quarterback

Douglas always loves a great deal and I’d imagine trading for a team’s third-string tight end and taking that contract off their hands would be welcomed down in Tampa Bay.

The Jets still have one additional 2022 sixth-rounder left that could be used as trade bait to get a potential deal done.

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